Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interlude in the Lemon Tree House

The Snake Charmer, Henri Rousseau, 1907
for Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales

The wall came down precisely:
exterior shingles – to be saved, plaster cut
with a tiny hand saw inside a plastic tent,
to stop the flow of dust all over the house.

The wishful view of the Volunteer vs Thistle,
framed in gold on a turquoise sea,
gave way to a triple window – a woodland view –
and seventy two panes of glass to paint.

Let there be light – and an interlude:

The Lemon Tree grew in the oldest greenhouse,
planted in 1900. I didn’t dare ask if the snake
still lived in this tropical jungle of exotica;

I knew I’d watch for it – I was here on a mission –
looking for Eden ten miles from home
at Logee’s* on North Street;

I’ve had the gift card, tucked away for someday,
for seven years; for this day, when I craved a tour
of a tropical jungle in a century old glass house

to see The Lemon Tree – and the guava fruit,
the pink trumpets of the Angels Blushing Beauty**,
to inhale the hypnotic scent of the gardenia,

touch the twisting trunks and run my fingers
through the twining vines to meet Rousseau’s muse
in a tropical jungle – where The Snake Charmer lives.

A black Eve I had not hoped for, nor had she appeared
in the glass house; but there she was outside,
strolling up the road in stretch denim jeans,

shoulder bag swaying, blond streaked pony-tail,
like the Citrus medica ‘Buddha’s Hand’** in the hot house,
cell phone to her ear, surely charming a “Betes Sauvage”***from her personal Eden.

I stroked the soft, velvety leaves of my purchase,
two scented geraniums for the new windows,
reserving nineteen dollars and fifty six cents
for my next excursion to Logee’s Eden.

Buddha's Hand
* Logee's Tropical Plants, Danielson, CT
** Citrus medica ‘Buddha’s Hand’
*** Betes Sauvages, album of wild beasts, Paris Museum of Natural History.

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  1. Quite the excursion in this verse, I have a feeling those nineteen dollars and fifty six cents will take you far..haha...great write as always.

  2. There's a whole world under our world, and a whole mythology in plant names--and you give them both the mystery they deserve, tracking down the odd exotics and the varieties reborn like the snake charmer from the reincarnations of New World seeds and cuttings. Fine poem, Ann.

  3. 72 panes of glass? That's a hell of a window! Along with a couple of geraniums I'd say that's a very satisfying renovation. Love how you played one painting against another, one multi-paned window against another, one scene against another.

  4. ha this gets playful at times...esp with eve...sounds like a rather fun excursion...and i like to walk among the plants and gardens..esp the exotic ones...

  5. A very interesting reflection of this painting. It contrasts with it nicely. The images are flat on canvas, but you give your scene dimension, texture. Very nicely done.

  6. Indeed an unusual interpretation of the prompt. Thank you.

  7. Interesting piece... though I am always fascinated by plants these days, and their deeper meanings.

  8. This is great and such a fun write about plants and what they could be thinking. I love plants and have a giant garden but do not need a hot house to raise them in the islands supply all the heat necessary to do this one thanks for sharing

  9. This is delightful and makes me want to visit again the glasshouses at Kew. I like scented-leaf geraniums too.
    I think you are right in assuming that wild creatures have an affinity with those that nurture them - your Cooper's Hawks will be back next year, I'm sure.

  10. My the snake in the lemon tree never bother you...

  11. Ann, you continue to delight and amaze ....

  12. Ok, I saw "volunteer" and painting something in the same stanza so I ducked out of sight as quickly as I could, heaven forbid you should see me whimpering away from that chore..... but when I returned I found a most enchanting poem.... Your imagination is so inviting and impressive, and you took me on a most beautiful little journey... thank you.....

  13. wow - this is awesome...really enjoyed the walk you took us on...I was here on a mission –
    looking for Eden ten miles from home .. what a great line..all very down to earth and still wonderfully mysterious..

  14. this is fabulous and complex poetry, pulling at the reader's heart and mind and the joy of reminiscence, fantasy, conjuring a new world. You pull so much that is fascinating into this-- brava! xxxj

  15. Thanks for taking us along with you with this poem. Nice imagery and play with words and names. :)

  16. Ahhh, I think a Logees in our mind and heart from this poem was just what the nostalgia doctor ordered.

    I must admit I was not prepared for this poem, but when I finally settled my mind down and eased myself in I was caught!

    Sadly, both my inexpensive gardenia babies found it too hot and dry this summer to carry on. :( But next year will be better!